Yes, I know it’s about a week late, but better late than never, right? As a baseball fan/blogger, how could I not document those feelings of raw joy that I experienced on Opening Day? It is the holiest day of baseball, the pinnacle of hope for baseball fans everywhere. I honestly don’t know why the national government hasn’t declared Opening Day a national holiday. It certainly contains many of the same qualities that other national holidays do. Holidays are all about coming together and celebrating one, unified cause. Isn’t that exactly what Opening Day is? As fans, we may not be rooting for the same teams, but we are still celebrating the fact that baseball has finally returned.
(not my picture, don’t know whose, but it’s fantastic… Fenway Park)
The Fourth of July reminds people of why they are proud to be Americans, and similarly, Opening Day reminds us of why we’re proud to be baseball fans. We remember everything we love about baseball, and everything it represents to us. The blind fools who think that baseball is a boring game don’t realize that everything baseball is, and everything that it can represent to them. Honestly, my life is baseball. I think of my life in terms of baseball. I understand things when they are explained to me in baseball terms. I become less hostile when someone brings baseball into the conversation. I speak the word of baseball, and I sincerely hope that you do too.
It’s hard for me to come up with words to describe everything that baseball makes me feel. I feel like loving baseball is the same thing as loving a person, though I could be way off base here (haha, get it?). From what I can gather, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve loved someone for years, whether you’ve just broken up with someone, you still can’t put actual love into words. I seriously can’t put how much I love baseball into words. I really don’t think anyone can. Live love, it’s just something that you express. If you could put it into words, maybe it would not be as special. Even though I think it’s nearly impossible for the love that we baseball fans feel for our sport, I think W.P. Kinsella comes pretty close. So I’d like to share with you an excerpt from my favorite book, Shoeless Joe:
“I take the word of baseball and begin to talk it. I begin to speak it. I begin to live it. The word is baseball. …Can you imagine? Can you imagine? Can you imagine walking around with the very word of baseball enshrined inside you? Because the word of salvation is baseball. It gets inside you. Inside me. And the words that I speak are spirt, and are baseball. The word healed them, and delivered them from destruction. The word makes the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
“As you begin to speak the word of baseball, as you speak it to men and women, you are going to find that these men and women are going to be changed by that life-flow, by the loving word of baseball. Whenever the word of baseball is brought upon the scene, something happens. You can’t go out under your own power, under your own light, your own strength, and expect to accomplish what baseball can accomplish.
“We have the word within us. I say you must get the word of baseball within you, and let it dwell within you richly. So that when you walk out in the world and meet a man or woman, you can speak the word of baseball, not because you’ve heard someone else speak it but because it is alive within you.
“When you speak the word, something will begin to happen. We underestimate the power of the word. We don’t understand it. We underestimate all that it can accomplish. When you go out there and speak the word of baseball–the word of baseball is spirit and it is life.
“I’ve read the word, I’ve played it, I’ve digested it, it’s in there! When you speak, there is going to be a change in those around you. That is the living word of baseball. As I look at you, I know that there are many who are troubled, anxious, worried, insecure. What is the cure? Is it to be found in doctors and pills and medicines? No. The answer is in the word, and baseball is the word. We must tell everyone we meet the true meaning of the word of baseball, and if we do, those we speak to will be changed by the power of that living word.
“Praise the name of baseball. The word will set captives free. The words will open the eyes of the blind. The word will raise the dead. Have you the word of baseball living inside you? Has the word of baseball become part of you? Do you live it, play it, digest it, forever? Let [me] tell you to make the word of baseball your life. Walk into the world and speak of baseball. Let the word flow through you like water, so that it may quicken the thirst of your fellow man.”
So. Do you do this? Do you speak the word of baseball? Does it flow through you like electricity through a circuit? I do. I believe in the power of the word of baseball. I want to share the word of baseball with people who don’t live it. It is better than any medication because of what it is.
Opening Day makes me think about this idea all over again because baseball has returned. I am cynical and pessimistic during the offseason, but as soon as baseball season rolls around, I am an optimistic, all around happy person. The Red Sox may have more of an affect on my mood than my grades, or anything for that matter, but no matter how mad or upset I may be, there is always the next game. It is the constant. I can rely on baseball to always be there, and it makes me feel safe.
This year, baseball and Jesus rose aga
in on the same day (or night, for baseball). Coincidence? I think not. I collected Easter eggs (see above), I went to church on Sunday, but I think it was a different church than many of you may have attended. As Annie Savoy (Bull Durham) would say, I went to the church of baseball. “The only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the church of baseball.”
I also went to church on Monday. I went to Opening Day. All 13 of them. My living room was the baseball hotspot. I had my television, the family desktop, and my laptop going all at once. I had an entire schedule for how I was going to accomplish the daunting task of watching 13 baseball games in one day. At one point, I had nine baseball games going at once, so it was hard to keep up with all of them, but it wasn’t a burden. I watched 12 straight hours of baseball. I probably could have paced myself a little better, but I can truly see myself doing this as a living. I saw some amazing plays and some amazing feats: The night before, I saw the Red Sox rally to beat the Yankees on Opening Night. On Sunday,I saw Lastings Milledge, and Nate McLouth make incredible grabs in the outfield. I saw Mark Buehrle make the most unbelievable play I’ve ever seen. I saw Jason Heyward crush a three run homer on the first pitch in his first at-bat in the Majors (and that was something truly special). And I saw Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a walk-off single to afford the Texas Rangers a win after Shaun Marcum of the Blue Jays carried a perfect game into the fifth.
I don’t think any of my friends from school truly understand this thing that I have for baseball.They accept it, which I appreciate, but they think I’m a nut. Someday, I want to be able to eloquently articulate the love that I, and many of you, feel for baseball. But until then, I can only encourage you to speak the word of baseball: to live it, to think it, to share it. Believe it.